The Sumter Fire Department wants you to volunteer in your community.
An unfortunate national trend right now is a downturn in the number of folks seeking to become volunteer firefighters.
“The volunteer ranks are decreasing drastically,” said Sumter Fire Department Assistant Chief Brian Christmas. “It hurts the rural areas the most.”
The Sumter Fire Department recently had a team in Mayesville to pass out flyers, place a few signs and do some public outreach to drum up interest in adding volunteers to their ranks.
“We initially targeted Mayesville and we’re looking at canvassing different areas around the county such as Oswego and Dubose and Horatio because we need people to step up and help protect their community while also serving an important role,” he said.
If a home in Mayesville were to become engulfed in fire, for instance, it would take precious minutes before a truck could respond from the Public Safety Complex on North Lafayette Drive.
“Volunteers increase response times and essentially save more property and if there’s someone in that residence, there’s a better chance of saving that person’s life,” Christmas said.
Division Chief Joey Duggan pointed out that volunteer firefighters undergo the same training and background checks as career firefighters.
“We’ve got certain standards in place and we hold folks to those standards,” he said.
Duggan noted there are 16 fire stations in Sumter County and people are needed from throughout the county.
“For people to have the best chance of survival, we need first responders on scene quickly. You’re investing in your community and it could be your own family member you’re helping,” he said. “What better way to help your community than being trained as a volunteer firefighter?”
Duggan said an inaugural Recruit School is being planned for August, which would have a group of folks seeking to become volunteers who would take classes, work together and train together.
For more information about becoming a volunteer firefighter, contact (803) 436-2600 or send an email to email@example.com